Saturday, February 24, 2007

This kind of crap pisses me off

Whats on yahoo! news headlines? Circumcision significantly lowers HIV infection. So anyone who sees that kind of crap may believe it, without researching it further.
#1 the studies were done in Africa. Know what else reduces the risk of HIV? Condoms!
#2 the studies were done on consenting ADULT men. Not babies.
#3 The circumcised men were told to abstain from sex for 6 weeks and then to use a condom after that. The intact men were told nothing. No wonder no medical journal will publish this type of crap "research".

Maybe they should instead tell everyone that circumcised males are less likely to wear a condom.

Something from someone on a board I frequent:
These studies have been all over the news for months and months and months. Reports of the same study keep being reported on over and over. It's quite bizarre, actually.

That being said, babies aren't having sex.

Although at least one exaggerating, arrogant researcher referred to circumcision as an "invisible condom" (no joke), the consensus is that condoms are absolutely essential regardless of circumcision status. News reports have frequently cited the study accompanied with the claim that circumcision is as effective as an HIV vaccine. There is an enormous concern that all of this misleading, overzealous promotion is going to result in many man thinking circumcision protects them from HIV, making them less likely to use condoms. (There are studies that have already shown the decreased sensitivity caused by circumcision, in itself, decreases condom use.)

If my son would like to sacrifice a good portion of his own sexual pleasure for reduced HIV risk because he wants to have a 4/l0 risk if he has unprotected sex, rather than a slightly higher risk, that's certainly his choice. Personally, I still think he'd be playing Russian Roulette with a half-loaded gun.

In Africa, HIV diagnosis isn't even diagnosed via bloodwork a large percentage of the time, it's diagnosed by symptoms---symptoms which mimick other diseases that have been present there for a very long time. If you google around, you can find articles about this issue/concern.

The mechanism that is supposedly responsible for this decreased risk is l.) Removing Langerhans Cells 2.) Keratinization.

Langerhans Cells are thought to be more suceptible to the HIV virus. Cut them off, and you decrease the risk. Guess what nobody's reporting in the media though? A woman's vulva, including her labia, are full of Langerhans Cells. However, nobody's suggesting that mass FGM be used to combat a woman's risk of infection, even though this study showed FGM/C did in fact decrease women's risk: http://www.ias-2005.org/planner/Abstracts.aspx?AID=3138

Keratinization is what happens to the glans when it's mobile, protective sheath is removed. Like our clitoris, an uncircumcised man's glans is smooth, glossy, and rich in color. A circumcised man's glans is more wrinkled/pitted, matte, and paler. Once exposed, like the bottoms of your feet if you go barefoot all summer, the glans dries and thickens. This callous of thick skin is thought to be a better barrier against HIV than thin, soft, sensitive skin.

A few other things to consider:

-These studies are of consenting, adult men receiving information and counseling. These aren't babies. The amount of sex education a child, circumcised at birth will aquire growing up is a lot more varied.

-These studies were all terminated early, supposedly because circumcision seemed so strongly protective. There is no long-term data that the reduction is lasting or that the fact that men who were circumcised had a period of time where they were recovering post-op and than a period of time after that where they may have been dealing with hypersensitivity issues and getting used to their circumcised state, which would almost certainly affect sexual behavior. There is concern that these studies were quickly concluded before the circumcised group (who had a big change to deal with) started 'catching up' with the intact group (who had no change to deal with).

-Since a circumcised penis looses the gliding mechanism provided by a mobile, sliding foreskin during intercourse, and it dries and thickens the head of the penis, intercourse is more abrasive, and abrasion of the sex or organs creates an entry-point for infection.

-Another thing you won't read in the headlines is the widespread practice of "dry sex" in Africa. Dry sex is when women use various herbs, chemicles, and other compounds to swell, heat, and dry their vaginas to increase pleasure for men. AIDS researchers have long expressed concern over this practice increasing infection rates because women are more likely to tear and bleed during sex. Imagine this compounded by a penis with no mobile skin. (This is just on cultural difference of many.)

Suffice it to say there's a lot more to the headlines and no, it doesn't change my view that male and female children deserve protection from genital cutting. It is truly disturbing how these studies on adult men in Africa, concluded early, with no long-term follow-up and (so far) no peer reviews are being publicized and promoted to the degree they have been...not just in Africa's fight against AIDS, but for American babies. It truly sickens me.